Driving in Australia - Getting an Australian Driver’s licence and buying a car

If you have an overseas driver's licence, you'll need to obtain an Australian State driver's licence within three months of arriving in Australia if you want to continue driving here. If you're a temporary visa holder, you'll be able to drive on your overseas licence for 12 months.

Depending on which country your current licence is from you may be able to get your local Australian licence without having to sit a test. However, if your licence is from a non-recognised country, you may have to sit a theory and/or driving test.

Did you know?
An Australian driver's licence also provides one of the most commonly accepted forms of photo identification. This is useful when you need to open an Australian bank account.

Buying a car - New or used?

There are pros and cons for buying either a new or used car. You can get a good idea of the price of buying a new or used car by checking out websites such as carsales.com.au

If you buy a new car, it'll be covered by a warranty, so you'll be covered for a specified period of time if anything goes wrong. However, new cars lose value rapidly (as a rule of thumb you can expect the value to drop by 20% as soon as you drive out of the car dealership).

Buying a second hand car will most probably be cheaper; however you won't necessarily know its history or what condition it's in. It's important to get the car properly checked out before you buy it. The NRMA in Australia offer a mobile vehicle inspection service. For a fee they can inspect a car you wish to buy and provide you with an independent condition report. 

Buying a new car in Australia

Here are some questions you should ask:

  • What are the on road costs (such as government taxes that'll need to be paid)?
  • What are the standard features?
  • What extras are available?
  • Are there any promotions or special deals at the moment?

The answers to these questions should help you gather enough information to decide if it's a good deal. Also compare prices between dealers to see what extras can be thrown in.

Buying a used car in Australia
It's even more important to ask the right questions when buying a used car:

  • Why are you selling?
  • What is its full service history?
  • How many owners has it had?
  • What was it used for?
  • How many kilometres does it have on the clock?
  • Has it ever been involved in an accident?

Tip: Make sure to take it for a test drive

Other costs to consider when buying a car in Australia
There are some extra costs that you'll need to cover when buying either a new or used car:

  • Stamp duty - this is a percentage of the purchase price that is paid to the state government of the state you're in and is paid on all purchases
  • Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) - this is a compulsory insurance required by law that covers you against a claim arising from the death or injury of another person due to your negligence.

This article covers general information about Driving in Australia - Getting an Australian Driver's licence and buying a car , and doesn't take your individual circumstances into account. Please use it as a guide only.